Internet Savings AccountsPosted on August 21st, 2010 William No comments
These days, most of the big banks seem to be pushing internet banking, and why not? It saves them a lot of money to have you doing things online, so they don't have to pay for real estate, tellers, etc. That said, internet banking is a great thing for the average person as well; not only is it a huge timesaver, but in many cases you can get a higher interest rate from online-only banks than you can with the standard B&M (brick and mortar) banks.Warning: scammers would love to get their hands on your internet banking details! Never click on an emailed link to a bank site; always type the address in yourself or Google it.
If you currently have a bank account and want to get started, just head over to your bank's website; they'll almost certainly have an option for internet banking. Once you're signed up, you'll be able to view all of your account details online; some will even let you pay bills and deposit checks from your computer. As you can imagine, this can save quite a bit of time over driving to the bank! So far the only thing I've run across that I have to actually go to the bank for is depositing and withdrawing cash.
If you prefer an online-only account, there are a number to choose from, but stay with reputable banks to be safe. The best-known online-only banks are Ing Direct and HSBC; in the past both paid significantly above-average interest rates, but their current rates are not particularly good. I've successfully used both banks in the past. I've also heard good things about (but haven't used) SmartyPig, which offers a decent rate (almost twice what many of the other banks pay) and requires you to deposit money every month until you meet a savings goal.
You want to bank somewhere that is based in the United States and is FDIC insured so that if anything happens to the institution, you'll be able to get your money back. Keep in mind that with an online bank it can take longer to get your money when you need it, since they'll need to mail you a check or transfer the money to another bank; however, these are a great place to stash your emergency fund! Aside from savings accounts, they also offer other standard services such as CDs and home loans. As with all banks, when you sign up for an account, be sure to check for any minimums; depending on what type of account you have, you could end up paying $12 per month for your "free" checking or savings account if your balance drops too low.
Internet savings accounts and internet checking accounts can save you both time and money. Perhaps most importantly, they let you bank on your schedule rather than during banker's hours, and you never have to try to find the local branch. What's not to like?
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